WORCESTER’S shops and businesses are the key to a strong economy in the city, according to Worcester's MP, who spoke out as figures were released showing nationwide employment is up.

MP Robin Walker said the figures released by the Office for National Statistics showing nationwide employment was up by 141,000 in the three months to November last year were highly encouraging.

He said: “With the kind of businesses we have here such as Bosch and Mazak, people are getting good jobs and more importantly, they are getting full time jobs. Add to that the great retail sector and strong independent retailers in the city, footfall in the high street for example has done really well. These figures show people are in work.

“What I want is for people to not just be in jobs, but to be in well-paid jobs.”

The ONS figures also show that average earnings across the country increased by 3.4 per cent in the year to November 2018, the highest for a decade, outpacing inflation.

Employment increased by 141,000 in the three months to November to 32.5 million, the highest since records began in 1971.

However, the figures also showed that unemployment across the West Midlands rose by 11,000, second only to the rise in the North East.

Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce director of business engagement Cassie Bray said: “Although the record numbers of people in work represents a major positive for the UK economy, it presents challenges to businesses attempting to recruit at a time when vacancies are also at record highs.”